Introduction

by Ngala Rig’dzin Dorje

My Root Lamas, Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen, urgently requested that I should make this text available to as many people as possible. They had been searching for this text for some years, and I was fortunate enough to be able to procure it for them – after long research. They also asked me to introduce the text on the basis of my knowledge of the ways in which Western people think.

I am extremely happy to say that I have been able to provide an increasing number of people with Tibetan purification medicine and guidance for the purpose of giving up smoking. I sincerely hope that the wider circulation of this text by His Holiness Düd’jom Rinpoche will provide a turning point for anyone who is seriously interested in Vajrayana practice – because to smoke and imagine oneself to be a practitioner is a sad contradiction. Vajrayana would appear to be unique in considering tobacco, as well as narcotics,not simply harmful to physical health but also severely damaging with regard to spiritual health. It is particularly damaging with regard to the rTsa-rLung system and renders any kind of formless practices worthless. Ngak’chang Rinpoche once said: Those smokers who engage in silent sitting, merely sit in a cloud of smoke of which they are entirely unaware – and in which they remain entirely unaware.

In this crucial essay1 on the subject, HH Düd’jom Rinpoche explains the non-ordinary visionary history which illuminates the deleterious nature of these poisonous substances, according to gTérma revelations. To help Vajrayana practitioners understand the danger of smoking, HH Düd’jom Rinpoche collected major salient pronouncements of Padmasambhava concerning tobacco and narcotics for those who regard these sacred revelations as their refuge. Warnings about tobacco and narcotics have been revealed as gTérmas since early on in Tibet, by the great gTértöns, and so no authentic Nyingma practitioner need assume that what is presented here is not applicable to them. Warnings about tobacco and narcotics actually cross the spectrum of Vajrayana lineages, and advice on the subject is voluminous.

The visionary accounts presented here deal with demonic intentionality, and ideas such as these may be ‘difficult’ for some people who are new to the practice of Vajrayana. We would therefore ask anyone who has difficulty in relating with such revelations to consider why this warning has not been more widespread within the Buddhist world. It cannot be that HH Düd’jom Rinpoche is not widely known and universally respected within the Tibetan Buddhist world.

We would also ask why it is that, in the face of massive medical evidence, people still smoke – and why governments who are happy to legislate against all manner of things, find themselves unable to ban this substance. How can this be, in view of the fact that the very same governments have made it mandatory for tobacco products and tobacco advertising to carry a health warning? Is there any other non-medically prescribed substance on the open market which carries a health warning – let alone such dire warnings as are found with regard to tobacco? How is it that this substance remains legal? How is it that children can be exposed to cigarette fumes without this being regarded as ‘child abuse’ – when it has been shown that ‘secondary smoke’ is as harmful as direct smoking? We live in societies where social agencies have become extremely sensitive to such issues – so why is there not as much concern about injury from smoking with regard to children as there is concern over firearms? Surely death is death – whatever the cause, and a demon is a demon by any other name.

The ‘demonic quality’ of tobacco is evident whether or not one perceives the ‘demon’. The important fact here, for anyone who has respect and devotion for HH Düd’jom Rinpoche, is that smoking destroys one’s practice and one’s samaya. HH Düd’jom Rinpoche is the Lama whom most other Nyingma Lamas alive today venerate as the epitome of all that is inspiring – so those who have not yet been convinced as to the effects of smoking, please take this opportunity to rid yourself of its corrupting influence.

 

1. The following essay was originally translated (with the benefit of explanations by Khenpo Pema Shérab) by Könchog Ten’dzin in 1979. This current translation was produced by the translation committee of the Confederate Sanghas of Aro in 1999 with advice from Ngak’chang Rinpoche and KhandroDéchen.